Diana Olson
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10 companies buy up their own stock

What do you do when you have more cash than you know what to do with? Buy your own stock!

And that’s exactly what 10 companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500, including Apple (AAPL), Intel (INTC) and Exxon Mobil (XOM) are doing more than any others in Corporate America, says S&P Dow Jones Indices. Each of these companies spent more than $2 billion buying their own stock.

Companies in the S&P 500 spent $132.6 billion buying back their own stock in the fourth quarter of 2014 – which is up 2.5% from the same period last year, says S&P Dow Jones Indices. For the year, companies spend 16.3% more buying back their stock to the tune of $553.3 billion.

These buybacks are a bet that there’s no better way for the company to use cash – than buying back its own shares at the market value.

S&P 500 COMPANIES THAT SPENT MOST ON BUYBACKS IN 2014

CompanySymbolQ4 2014 buyback ($ mils.)
AppleAAPL$5,030
IntelINTC$3,686
Exxon MobilXOM$3,318
General MotorsGM$3,109
Wells FargoWFC$2,945
Johnson & JohnsonJNJ$2,743
MicrosoftMSFT$2,145
OracleORCL$2,087
ComcastCMCSA$2,001
Gilead SciencesGILD$2,001

Sources: S&P Dow Jones Indices

If there’s one troubling aspect of these buybacks, it’s that companies have an infamously poor track record at timing them. Companies tend to buy at the high – just to watch the stock fall. The most ever spent in a year on buybacks was $589.1 billion in 2007 – right before the financial crisis.

Sourсe: http://americasmarkets.usatoday.com/